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Monday, October 16, 2006

Cisco’s Wacky New Patent (CSC)(CMCSA)(VZ)(T)

Cisco has actually gone and gotten a patent for the “triple play” of cable and telecom fame: the delivery of TV, voice, and high speed internet access bundled by one provider. The triple play is the new Holy Grail of the telecom industry as companies like AT&T and Verizon try to take back the initiative that the cable companies have gained with consumers.

The US Patent Office has granted Cisco a patent for the “concept of providing integrated voice, video, and data content in an integrated service." Which means that Cisco could potentially go to every major US cable and telecom company and ask for a toll for the IP.

Maybe. Cisco filed for the patent in 2000, when the “triple play” did not really exist. Perhaps the company thought that if something like bundled services came along, it could own some rights to the underlying concept since Cisco provides much of the infrastructure to make it work. With their purchase of Scientific Atlanta, a big TV set-top box company, the idea made even more sense.

Patent grants often end up having unintended consequences. Technology evolves from the time of application to the time of grant. But, nonetheless, Cisco just got a couple of extra aces. It will be interesting to see how they play them.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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